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View Diary: Earth Day 1970:  that was then, this is now. A photo montage & notes of hope and despair. (22 comments)

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  •  Ed Muskie, the pride of Maine (10+ / 0-)

    Muskie's environmentalism grew from his humble beginnings in an immigrant family living in a paper mill town next to a stinking, putrid river.  I've kayaked in that river, and while it still has a ways to go to be free of pollution, it no longer makes your eyes stinand your stomach clench.

    It's good to remember how a few dedicated people can create positive change, to paraphrase Margaret Mead.  

    thanks so much for putting this diary together - great memories!

    •  Thank you for the reminder, maryru... (4+ / 0-)

      ...as I read this diarists words and saw the picture of Ed Muskie, I was reminded of the time around that first Earth Day (I was a first-grader with hippie parents), and the efforts to clean up the rivers (in Maine and elsewhere). They talked about it in school a bit, but didn't really target the little kids as much.

      I distinctly remember watching huge brown clumps of toxic foam covering the surface of the rivers near the paper mills, and the rotting broccoli/sulfur smell in the air. I remember hearing comedians on TV cracking jokes about "smog" and wondering, as a rural kid who had never seen a traffic jam in her life, if that was the stuff that smelled so bad near the mills.

      As you say, it's still not perfect (I wouldn't want to swim in most of those mill town rivers even now) but it is most certainly improving.

      Thanks Ed - and thanks to the diarist for a really good, nostalgic read!

      •  My first winter in Maine (4+ / 0-)

        I remember opening the front door of my dorm and gagging when the smell from the river hit me. The locals told me it was way better than in the "old days" when paint used to peel from buildings due to the high sulfur content, but it was still pretty awful.

        No, I wouldn't swim in them either, and it's frustrating that progress has stalled out in the past decade.  The failing economy and closure of paper mills probably has helped more lately than any regulations.  Hope we can get back on track soon.

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